Validation. It isn’t something I think about too often, but when I want to express to someone how I am feeling I need validation. I want to feel heard. I want to feel like the thoughts I’m having or the things I’m feeling are important.
Due to the recent pandemic, my planned April 30 wedding with over 150 of our closest friends and family had to be cancelled. With nearing the end of the long distance aspect of our relationship (me in Virginia and him in Illinois) and with the months of planning my heart was very sad. With the isolation due to the pandemic I felt very alone and plunged into a depression. During this season my fiancé was very supportive. While he was sad about our planned wedding, he did not have the same emotions as I did. One thing I am grateful for is that he validated my feelings. He listened. He supported and he prayed. I knew that everything would work out, but I had all these emotions and needed someone to listen and love me through them.
As our world continues to evolve and change during the pandemic I believe validation is essential in our relationships. After all, it’s challenging enough to be stuck at home with everyone in such close quarters! When we don’t take the time to listen and validate another’s feelings it can often lead to resentment and isolation. I have seen this in particular with many of the adolescents I have worked with.
Many of the students who came to me would share how they could not be honest with their feelings of depression, anxiety, or fear because their parents would dismiss them. While I am not saying that every thought or emotion is true, especially with adolescents, I am saying that confirming what your child is saying is important. It gives them a safe place to be open and share their hearts. Too often I find that children and adolescents’ feelings are dismissed instead of heard which affects self-esteem, level of closeness, and even the discovery of true mental health struggles.
One could equate validation with approval. To an extent we all look for approval from others. I see validation and approval as two very different concepts. My feelings being validated makes me feel loved and heard. But, the only approval I truly need to be all I am comes from the Lord. During my recent experience I learned most of all that the Lord validates not only my feelings, but my self-worth and value. Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Open up before God, keep nothing back; He’ll do whatever needs to be done: He’ll validate your life in the clear of day and stamp you with approval at high noon.”
As we continue to endure during this season I am going to challenge you to listen, to love, to validate the feelings of those around you; your spouse, your children, other family members, and friends. Listen to thoughts, feelings and emotions and let those you love feel heard. In this the Lord could use you to speak words of encouragement, spend time in prayer, and help understand another on a deeper level. The second challenge is to go to the Lord with all of your thoughts and emotions. He will always listen and always be present. The truest approval and validation we could ever receive is the love of Jesus, who proved that with His death on the cross and resurrection.